Former Park City Municipal Manager Arlene Loble Remembered
Arlene Loble, who died last week, became Park City’s first professional manager during the big changes and big challenges of the Eighties.
A former City Attorney recalled the era in an interview with KPCW.
Tom Clyde is still known locally as a Park Record columnist and the emcee and a writer for the Park City Follies, but he served as City Attorney from 1982 to 1987, brought on by Arlene Loble.
He said when Loble was hired in 1980, the city was just recovering from a scandal in the operations of the Planning and Building Department, and operations were haphazard at city hall.
“Our finance department was multiple checkbooks of different colors and all of the city tax revenue as it came in was deposited in checking accounts and nobody earned a nickel of interest on it,” Clyde explained. “You decide whether you paid this bill on a blue check or a pink check and that's how it worked. Arlene put all these modern systems into play. She was hired by an extraordinary City Council. Bob Wells, Bill Coleman, Helen Alvarez, Tina Lewis, Tom Shellenberger who were there just to clean up the mess that you described with the building department and public works not really functioning all that well.”
He said the city council, with a clear vision for the town, gave Loble a mandate to modernize City Hall. Clyde said she went at it like a tornado, at a time when change was occurring at an amazing rate.
“The town tripled in size,” Clyde said. “We had an economic downturn so after it tripled in size and we had all this new stuff to take care of everybody, went broke. We were foreclosing right and left. Deer Valley came online but a whole lot of other development came online parallel to that. The back half of Park Meadows golf course. Just enormous, I used to say I’d leave Park City for the weekend and come back and find new condos sprouted on the vacant lots.”
Loble hired people like Police Chief Frank Bell and Myles Rademan, who went on to create Park City Leadership. Both were key planners in organizing for the 2002 Olympics.
She also reacted when the EPA eyed the Prospector neighborhood as a Superfund site.
“Arlene was there when the EPA came to town initially and said well, we have to tear down every house in Prospector Square and make people move,” Clyde continued. “Their own science didn't support that. She and Ron Ivy lead that battle for several years. Ultimately ended up with the soils cap ordnance that everyone is familiar with to solve the problem and move on.”
Clyde said she was tireless in searching for financial opportunities for the city.
“I swear Arlene must have taken the Utah code home at night and read the index looking for revenue sources,” Clyde explained. “She came in one day and said we got to do a municipal building authority. I said what's that? Researched it a little bit, it allowed the city to form a separate entity to take out a conventional mortgage on city buildings and then lease them back to City Hall. The municipal bond industry in the state had convinced every bank that it was an unconstitutional end run around having to have a bond election, and no bank would touch it. But it was there in the code and it said you could do it.”
He said after several meetings with a local banker, they took out the first municipal loan, which is now common in the state.
Clyde said even after Loble left the city in 1988, the community meant a lot to her.
“When she left here, she was having some pretty serious health problems,” Clyde said. “The stress of that job really fried all of us. None of us lasted long at it. She moved to the most boring suburb in Oregon she said and spent a 20-year career there. (She) was absolutely be loved by her staff and the community and when she retired, they had a big party.”
He said while her career continued in Oregon, much of her life was in Park City.
Finally, he said it’s hard to summarize her legacy.
“It’s so broad that I think if you look out the window at Park City it's hard to see something that she didn't have a hand in either getting done or laying the framework for it,” Clyde continued. “Historical preservation, financial soundness, decent fiscal management, processes and procedures. It's hard to speak warmly of bureaucracy but compared to nothing it was a giant step forward. People could come to the window at the planning office and they would know what the process was and that there was an end to it. They go through it.”
A gathering of friends in honor of Loble is scheduled at Café Terigo on Friday from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.